Meet the 21st century enterprise

With a short attention span, spoilt with unlimited choices and more informed, the younger generation can reveal the characteristics of the 21st century customer.

Can businesses still living in the 20th century even begin to comprehend the needs and desires of this 21st century customer, let alone fulfil them?

Let’s for a minute look deeper into the customer’s behavior and expectations that we see around us.

In the last couple of years, mobile app based shopping, intuitive shopping lists and the ease of choosing delivery time and payment methods combined with easy return policies have become common factors in customer satisfaction.

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Today, virtual reality is replicating the touch and feel experience of shopping with “payment with a selfie”, where the user verifies the transaction by taking a selfie.

It is not just ‘cool technology’, as my kids would call it, but part of a concerted effort by companies to give ease, speed and ownership to the customer.

To be ahead of the competition, businesses need to adopt such innovation and also make it their exclusive differentiator; Amazon by the way, is working on patenting ‘pay by selfie’.

What would differentiate a 21st century enterprise in such a fast evolving world?

Customer at the centre

Enterprises have to be customer–driven and invest in building experiences that customers would want to return to.

It requires the use of multiple technologies and not just point solutions for specific outcomes.

Mobile apps, for example, are just a point solution, and hardly a differentiator.

It is how the mobile app and the full customer experience works end-to-end, which is important.

In order to build an exclusive experience, brands must add various interactive services around the mobile app, meaning that various technologies work harmoniously together.

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In order to keep the shopper engaged, businesses need advanced customer analytics to analyse, segment, understand product preferences and predict the next possible purchase by impacting the customer’s decision at the right point on the path to purchase.

They should look to deploy tools to listen to the social conversations, use new age technologies like VR, AR etc. to build immersive interaction, embed advanced payment options and use encryption technology to secure and protect financial information.

Begin at the end

Enterprises have to establish the end goal and then work backwards to weave in technologies, processes and ways of working to deliver that outcome.

This requires business innovation, process reengineering and not just adoption of a technology.

Thinking “digitally” opens up a total new world of opportunities.

Making something old and substandard just a little better is not the answer.

You really need to step back and re–imagine what is possible by finding the unmet customer need and then start the whole process from there.

Compete and collaborate

In order to deliver seamless and unique experiences, companies have to work together with customers and suppliers in the ecosystem.

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It does not take away competitiveness, it just redefines how to compete and build a differentiating edge.

Lean is in

Nimbleness is critical, size does not matter, attitude does.

Be startup at heart, no matter what the age of your business is – be ready to experiment, rediscover and be agile enough to navigate the ever–evolving landscape.

This goes for IT and the business as a whole.

Streamline decision making

Intuition is good but it must be backed by insight. Enterprises need a holistic, big picture approach and roadmap.

Getting to the right answer and outcomes is not just a quick sprint to get mobile, but rather a marathon combining one sprint after the other, focused and guided towards the right vision and outcome.

Being analytical in every decision is critical to see what is working and what needs changing, so businesses can quickly act in real–time to serve the customer.

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Customers live in the now, so having barriers to quick decisions can be limiting to say the least, companies need to act as they think – quickly.

And this brings us to the critical question – how do businesses transition to 21st century enterprises?

The five factors listed above, should be the core guiding principles towards building a successful 21st century business.

Technology is a tool, attitude and aptitude to deliver business outcomes – the true North Star.


Sourced from Jaco Van Eeden, executive vice president and global head, BEYONDigital, HCL Technologies

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...